THE BREAKDANCING PRESIDENT
Parashat Chaye Sarah
There are three peculiar Berachot, that we make each day. ×©×œ× ×¢×©× ×™ ×’×•×™, ×©×œ× ×¢×©× ×™ ×¢×‘×“, ×©×œ× ×¢×©× ×™ ××©×”. Blessed are Youâ€¦ for You did not make me a gentile, â€¦ for not making me a slave, â€¦ for not making me a woman. What is so bad about being a woman? A woman like Sarah, our Matriarch, was greater than Avraham in prophecy! What is so bad about being a slave, like Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, who was called ×“×ž×©×§ ××œ×™×¢×–×¨ for he was ×“×•×œ×” ×•×ž×©×§×” ×ª×•×¨×” ×ž×¨×‘×• ×œ××—×¨×™×, he would transmit his master, Avrahamâ€™s, teaching to the world, a servant for whom G-d performed open miracles? What is wrong being a gentile like O. Shindler, or the Druze Arab who was killed in the Har Nof massacre, both of whom put their lives on the line to defend innocent Jews?
And another question. Why is the blessing made in the negative? Just simply say, thanks for making me Jewish, for making me a free man and for making me male! Why do we make the blessings in this weird fashion?
My friend answered this question with something he said he heard from Râ€™ D. Orlofsky. The best way to explain it is using the Rabbiâ€™s parable: Marty went to school, from 1st – 12th grade, anticipating going on the big, graduation, overseas, extreme trip. Two weeks before the flight, his mom mentioned to him that Aunt Martha, who heâ€™s never met, is coming for a visit. He canâ€™t miss this once in a lifetime chance to meet her. â€œI canceled your flight for you, so you do not have to worry. I think that this meeting is very important.â€ â€œNoooooooooo!â€ To make a long story short, he ended up having a great time with his auntie. Now, Marty wants to thank Aunt Martha for this opportunity of getting to know her. He has two choices of what to say. â€œThanks for giving me a great time.â€ Or, â€œI had such a great time! It was worth it for me to miss my grand graduation trip, just to get to know youâ€. Which one has more meaning?
The blessings we make prior to these are that G-d gave us all that we need, and that G-d glorified us as Jews. The blessing we make here is that we thank G-d for making me me. For putting me in the position of being a male, a Jew and a free man, so that I have the full gamut of the 613 mitzvoth. â€œAnd, G-d, I am so thankful that you made me me, with the challenges of being a male, that I thank you even for not being Sarah, Eliezer, or O. Schindler. I want to know who the next president of the U. S. is going to be, the most respectful position in the world, so that I can thank G-d, saying, it is so worthwhile being the Jew that You made me, that I would give up being Mr. President, if I had to, for that honor.
Where has that Jew gone, the one that is happier to have the opportunity to be commanded to put on teffilin than he is to have the opportunity to be the President? Or happier to have a mitzvah to put on a Tallit, than to be a holy woman, like Rebbetzin Kaniefsky? Or to have a mitzvah to learn 3 sedarim in Yeshiva more than having miracles happen to him, like flying camels, and having G-d answer your wish before you finish your request… or to send you angels to poison those who poison you? The authentic Jew thought this way in the last generation, but nowadays, the average Jew wants to be President. He wants to breakdance like a Goy at weddings, and would rather not be woken up for saying Kriat Shema on time, as men are commanded to do.
This reminds me of a common syndrome. I had a meeting with one of my students in NYC last month, on Broadway. I stepped into the Kosher Bravo Pizza and bought a drink. I sat down, and next to me, an African American family, polite mother and kids, sat down to share a pie. The mother asked if it bothers me that they sat next to me. I said, not in the least. â€œBut, I just want to ask you a question. I always thought that non kosher pizza tastes better and costs less. Is it worth it for you to pay more to eat pizza with supervision?â€ She answered me, â€œNo, Rabbi, you got it wrong. Pizza here costs less and tastes better!â€
There is a fear that is underestimated. It is the fear of missing out. The fear that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Or that someone elseâ€™s situation is better or easier. People do not like to accept that â€˜G-d made me the way He made me, because He wants me to be me.â€™ He wants me to grow from the position that I am in.
Blessed are You G-d, that you made for me all that I need.